Sex differences in the stone tool-use behavior of a wild population of burmese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea)

Authors

  • Michael D. Gumert,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
    • Division of Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798, Singapore
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  • Low Kuan Hoong,

    1. Division of Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
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  • Suchinda Malaivijitnond

    1. Primate Research Unit, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
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Abstract

We investigated sex differences in how Burmese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis aurea) used stone tools to open shelled food items along the shores of two islands in Laemson National Park, Thailand. Over a 2-week period in December 2009, we collected scan and focal samples on macaques when they were visible along the shores and mangroves. We found females used stones more often while feeding and used smaller tools than males. Females also processed sessile oysters more than males, whereas males processed unattached foods more than females. It was unclear which sex was overall more proficient at stone tool use, but males did perform significantly better at opening unattached food items with large pounding stones. Females also struck food items more times during tool-use bouts and at a faster rate, but no significant difference was found in average tool-use bout duration. Males processed foods slightly faster within a tool-use bout, but we were unable to detect a significant difference in the rate of food processing while foraging with tools. In summary females chipped open sessile oysters with an axing technique more than males, while males used larger stones to pound open unattached shelled food more often than females. Despite using pounding more than females, males also regularly utilized the axing technique on sessile oysters. Our results are the first assessment of sex differences in macaque stone tool use, providing a basis for comparison with tool use in other primates, and to nonfunctional forms of stone use in other macaques. Am. J. Primatol. 73:1239–1249, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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